Portanova12 Gallery (Bologna) in Swab Fair. In that occasion I showned some new works of the series “Charta – Map” with a curatorial text by Karin Gavassa. Big up to Gigi Piana for this nice experience together. This was the occasion for making a combo with Alessandra Maio.
Here is the curatorial text by Karin Gavassa “Opiemme begins his journey in the late ’90s in Turin with an meticulous research on poetry and with the intention to bring it to the streets, closer to the people, exploring new ways to present it in order to realize its expressive potential. In 2013, among other projects, Opiemme created a poetic route of street poetry that became the manifesto of his poetic philosophy: “A Journey of painting and poetry,” narrated by the American Huffington Post. A site-specific painting style was developed that brings together the planning skills intrinsic in public art, attention to the history and the different lyrics of each place, and technique, such as stencils, spray, wall paint, chalk accumulations, and installations. Opiemme’s entire work takes the form of a research on poetry which opens up to both the inner and geographical spaces, starting from a personal and intimate point of view. His inspiration draws from international movements and the iconic artists of visual poetry. The thin demarcation line between poetry and image is what interests Opiemme the most, in particular the way in which the word can be transformed into a graphic sign and be enriched with new meanings. Recently, in the spectacular setting of the Teatro delle Rocce (Gavorrano, Grosseto), poetry becomes a sign through which new images can be drawn. Images to read, words to look at. Messages that are poetically expressed yet accessible to all. The return to the use of maps, at a time when we are used to see ourselves as avatars on our GPS, leads us to a recovery of the memory of places. The very gesture of opening and folding the maps takes us back to a slower and more careful use, more than doing the same thing with the geolocation of our smartphone screens. “Staring at the maps , I see shapes and memories – Opiemme said – I like to read them. Orientating myself without devices… “. Thus, flying letters arise from the morphology of places, leading across words which then become forms, awaking emotions, filtering memories and experiences. “My drawings swim in them. And they take on values that are unknown. Just as the words of a poem can have different meanings, depending on the emotions and experiences of who reads them.“
31 August – 1 November Fondazione Cini, Venezia (Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore)
18 May – 21 June 2015 Torino, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Via Modane 16, Praestigium – Contemporary Artist from Italy
A group show of 420 artists, displaying 10×12 cm artworks, curated by Luca Beatrice. “Imago Mundi is a cultural, democratic and global project that looks to the new frontiers of art in the name of coexistence of expressive diversity,” said Luciano Benetton.
A short and quick conversation between journalist and curator Alessia Carlino and Opiemme. You may read it on line here (just italian, english version below and on paper version). Here is an artwork available for the lauch project of Insideart Gallery
Don’t call him street artist: his delicate balance between words and signs Alessia Carlino
Opiemme’s alphabet is a thick sequence of signs, gestures, attitudes which brings poetry together, in a univer- sal pictorial vision.To think of his interventions throughout the world as “street art” is certainly misleading, because Opiemme investigates an imagery which is never unambiguous, but consists of many different experiences in a constantly evolving style. Currently the artist is in Turin , where he lives and works. His art production is a graphic corpus but never an end in itself that speaks of literature, words, poems, and ultimately the universe.
Your last project Vortex shows an exegetical celebration of a mystery, the universe’s infinity, which you discovered in the study of geneticist Giuseppe Sermonti. How did you get to connect scientific literature and art? «It was a serendipitous connection. In 2013 someone recommended me a book: L’alfabeto scende dalle stelle. It stuck in my mind, so I ended up idealizing it: writing was instilled by the stars, a galactic unity of things which transcended the Earth. Even in the case of my Vortex, painted in Danzig with Wislawa Szymborska’s verse “Underneath a little star”, it was by chance. During those same days a small exhibition dedicated to the Polish poet was opening, and the Szymborska Foundation in Cracow decided to officially recognize the wall. I hadn’t decided yet to focus my research on Vortex. When I got back to Italy I was approached by Sermonti, the author of the book. What we had in common was not science, but our fascination for that blackness. It’s a gravity in your head, that makes you dream.With the words of Sermonti I try to “rewrite a lexical astronomical theory for a translation of constellations into alphabets”. I think Sermonti is a dreamer, although his theories are valid to the astronomy community. He describes letters-emanating stars as “a delicate image of an alphabet descending straight from the sky, like a sublime stardust”».
GuillaumeApollinaire said: “To me a calligram is a union of signs, designs and thoughts”. How would you define your expressive, which joins words and sings? «It’s as if you have three reading levels: the images, the words, and the thoughts they provoke. Such process, though, is not a mere consequence.Their blend must be right to work in the eyes, hearts and minds of people. Poems alone stay silent. The individual emotions and stories of each reader complete them. In Vortex, words and signs are not an inseparable set: letters change into something else, and words get destructured. They’re tiny scraps of stars. Radiations. A symbolic derivative. A movement, not a tale. I can’t give you a definition, right now, since I’m still looking for awareness about it».
What’s your vision about the public matrix, which distinguishes some of your work? «It’s working on the story, the memories, the future of a place through the words of a poet. It’s arranging participative performances interacting with the social fabric. It’s designing a poetic icon in words. It’s leaving it on the streets like an advertisement for a thought.When I get somewhere, especially small towns, I like to discover tales from the citizens’ voices, and feel what they feel.To receive the memories they transmit to me. Finding a poet, then a particular passage, and starting to work on something tailor-made. My work starts with writing and, ispired to land and public art, gets into the streets, where it finds a modus operandi of its owns: to act with free, spontaneous, non-authorized interventions. In the early 2000’s, street art taught me I could take the liberty to leave my own mark. My intention was always the same: to convey poetry. Free interventions were a mean to that end.And will always be a resource.We could start a little debate about using the definitions of street art and muralism, but I prefer not to sacrifice myself to the social network windmills. Words lose meaning.We’re not giving them enough attention».
What legacy would you like to leave with your art? «It would be nice if my intervention was enough to bring some poems back to life. Moravia said “there’s not many poets in the world, just 3 or 4 in a whole century”. When I started Un viaggio di pittura e poesia I thought it was destined to a certain time.Today I see it as an ever growing course, made up of streets and land».
From the 6th of March to the 18th of April 2015 new works of “VORTEX” will be showned in Portanova12 Gallery. Photos: thanks to Rosy Dennetta and Mario Covotta
“The sky is a plastered wall waiting to be painted with primordial signs, stray words that fall like scales from a black (or white) circle, that can be a new moon or a dawning sun. Or a black hole. In the beginning there was the word.” Giuseppe Sermonti, member of The Osaka Group of Dynamic Structuralism.
Opiemme is in Italy with a series of shows entitled “VORTEX”, the Latin word for swirl, whirlpool, a reference to the spiral, a symbol of life, which mirrors the shape of our galaxy, the Milky Way, a perfect spiral. Having been influenced by a book by geneticist Sermonti, “The alphabet falls down from the stars”, and by a fascination for all the mysteries governing the universe, Opiemme paints stars from which letters fall, like stardust. In Opiemme’s new vision, the universe is a symbol of perfect balance, and all ils elements are interconnected. An inspiration to Stephen Hawking’s “theory of everything” is beginning to emerge.
“Opiemme takes a leap and leaves the street art of his beginnings, making it evolve into a personal version of visual poetry,” critic Olga Gambari writes on the pages of “la Repubblica”, and again, “There is painting, which hovers on everything as a symbol, stark black shapes that leave a mark and transform primary signs and the alphabet into icons” (Torino, La Repubblica, 5th March 2015).
There are two different style on the same theme: in the first colour is the protagonist, with a thick dripping that, when painting becomes more figurative, recalls pointillism, the action painting, abstract expressionism, and yes of course, J. Pollock; the second is characterized by sheets of old newspapers and maps, wherever painting is essential, minimal, dry, and basically black.
In the critical texts, his work is described by Maria Letizia Tega as at first “undermining de Saussure’s analysis, separating meaning from significance, there is no more mutual presupposition, and the letters are stripped of their role.They do not catch the eye of the beholder constructing words, they become just spots of colours, abstract elements.” Daniele Decia further emphasizes how an abstract component appears in Opiemme’s work, defining it with a play on words combining informal and visual poetry, “informal letters”: “He creates images made of words (letters), and now these become fragments and the letters circle around, gaining a new abstract (informal) component.” The connection and attention to art-history bring to a play with letters, to a design with words, and a work on poetry. This leads Opiemme to a deep closeness with Italian visual poetry, and with all those movements that have used the word combined with images. The artist himself admits he owes much to these movements, finding in gallery spaces, in white boxes, the perfect places for a dialogue with the avant-gardes of the past. The research Opiemme did on “Vortex” makes it possible to the viewer to see the Turin based artist’s work in its entirety. Often defined “the poet of street art”, Opiemme constantly works to bring poetry into public spaces (without distinction between outside and indoor places) in order to take the texts closer to the eyes of the people who read them. Street art, in this process/manifesto, has always been just a medium for his works. The medium of freedom, in works which were inspired and are deeply characterized as public art. This is evident in a mural-tribute to Wislawa Szymborza in Gdansk, Poland, a site-specific work on a ten–story building, which was later appreciated by the Foundation of the 1996 Nobel Prize winner for poetry itself. Opiemme thus continues working in a way that in galleries becomes even deeper, entering into the syntax of his search, showing us its different forms.
Timetable Thursday, Friday, Sunday from 4 pm to 7 pm Saturday 10 to 12 am, 4 to 7 pm
INFORMAL LETTERS An extract from Daniele Decia’s critical text.
[…] Why “informal letters”? It is actually a play on words I use to mix two kinds of art, informal art and visual poetry, just like the artist mixes them in his walls and paintings. “Vortex” is the title of a series of exhibitions in which Opiemme’s work turns to the sky, the universe, the suns, planets, and stars, which the artists discovers as a different self; an interior, dreamy and consoling self. He creates images which are made of words (letters), and now they are fragmented, and the letters float, acquiring an abstract (informal) quality. There is something more powerful, much stronger than human action, something that can create and reset everything. Man is not too precious. The Earth’s balance, the beauty of life, are precious, brutality of survival notwithstanding. The stars are a great place to keep your dreams, reflections, poems. It is by these reflections, born from a thorough study of Giuseppe Sermonti’s text, “L’alfabeto scende dalle stelle”, (The alphabet falls down from the stars), that Opiemme is fascinated, and they take him to this new world, transforming his recent works, from Poland to Thailand and South America, into radiations of letters, creating real mural visual poetry. […]
Setup Fair is the occasion to show new works of “VORTEX” series focused on stars and universe, letters and poetry. “Vortex” will be as well a series of solo show that will take place in Biella (February 6 – BI-BOx), Bologna (March 6 – Portanova12) and Milano (November 12 – Studio D’Ars).
Stand 11 – BI-BOx Art Space, Biella Stand 12 – Portanova12, Bologna
Setup Fair Bologna, Piazza XX Settembre 23-25 January 2015